Despite all the talk and countless articles about Serral's indominable 2018 run, here is a fun fact: Serral has never topped a Team Liquid Power Rank.
Addressing the community's concerns, I have in fact written about various Power ranking methodological issues previously - and again wish to stress my considerable gratitude for 99% of Team Liquid writer's content. However, the team has committed to monthly rankings of player positions via the Power Rank and there appears to be an absence of accountability in this area.
Although it doesn't really need to be said anymore, I will again list out the Premier tournaments won by Serral in 2018:
- WCS Leipzig
- WCS Austin
- WCS Valencia
- GSL (vs the World)
- WCS Montreal
- WCS Global Finals at BlizzCon
All up, Serral has won 8 Major tournaments and 6 Premier tournaments in one calendar year, while also placing semifinalist in two other Premier tournaments. He has not lost an offline match since April last year, despite featuring in almost every major tournament available to him. The Starcraft world hasn't seen someone this dominant since Flash, and bonjwa status barely describes him anymore.
Following his first two WCS victories, it is quite reasonable that Maru pipped him to spot #1, and Maru was perhaps the deserved favourite heading into GSLvsWorld (fyi Serral was only ranked #7 in June and #6 in July, truly outrageous considering only two other players won a single premier tournament in the whole year). But this defining tournament marked a turning point in the two's intercontinental rivalry. Where Maru faltered to Stats, Serral obliterated him - and quickly followed up his GSL victory with another beatdown of Maru in their head-to-head match. Maru's own aura of invincibility had been exposed by a foreigner.
At this point, Serral was clearly deserving of the #1 spot, or at least co-sharing the spot with Maru. But alas, in August, he was snuffed again.
The writers were practically apologising as they wrote it:
"You might have expected Serral to come in first in this ranking, and we assure you it was by no means an easy decision to put him in second place. The only thing holding him back minimally is that GSL vs The World is 'only' one tournament against the very best Koreans, and the player above him has put together a string of them, impressing in all. If Serral keeps playing at this level, though, you will see him top this ranking sooner rather than later."
September rolled on by, and Serral placed second. October was next - Maru knocked out of Super Tournament, and while Serral continued his remarkable unbeaten run the writers could not bring themselves to even share the top gong with a player who was breaking records for breakfast.
Heading into the BlizzCon rankings, Serral had already beaten sOs (Super Tournament winner) in perhaps the toughest preliminary finals group. But his ranking? Second place.
The entire community was frothing for possibly the most hyped matchup in SC2 history. It seemed like destiny for the titans of East and West to meet in the finals and play out an epic back and forth series.
But Maru didn't make it. In fact, he was made to look silly once more by his teammate sOs, who put Maru to bed in a 30 minute series.
Serral went on to claim a famous victory, outpacing Stats in the finals 4-2 and now surely, undisputably taking the crown of best in the world. It wasn't just the fact that he won, but the way in which he plays the game that simply seems lightyears ahead of his peers.
Coming into December, HomeStory cup was on the horizon and finally, finally Team Liquid writer's could deliver on their promises to put Serral at #1. Then came the biggest slap in the face the community had perhaps ever reeled from: "The Drunk Rank".
Serral wasn't even considered. The ranking featured nobodies like souL and Rail, and while seemingly celebrating alcoholism it serves to simultaneously snuff Serral once again from top ranking. All Santa brought Serral for Christmas was a snub from the community he has represented and given so much to.
In 2019 it seems that the Power Rank has been quietly swept under the rug. The January edition is either late or not forthcoming. If the Drunk Rank has truly marked the end of the Power Rank format, then Serral will have capped off an undefeated 9 months against the world's best while never to be crowned the king.
All we want is justice.